Gritty yellow musk drips down the inverted leg and over my hand as I try to keep my first whitetail buck from spinning. I twitch my head as the pungent scent seeps into my nose. From his pocket, my father pulls out a knife with a hooked blade on the tip and draws it down the underbelly like a zipper. He never asks me to cut the throat to drain the blood or remove the guts. He tells me to hold the black garbage bag underneath the suspended deer and catch the falling entrails. Even though he is careful not to puncture the bladder or stomach, the vapors of iron-scented blood flow into my nose. As he finishes removing the hide like a coat, I set the bag on the rear rack of the four-wheeler.
The stench of the guts and musk trails behind us as our headlights rise and fall over the rocky pasture. I hold the bag down until we get to the barbwire fence where he tells me to dump the remains over the side. After a hard- slapping splash on rock and dead grass, I pull the bag back over the fence just as one of the organs lets out a hiss. The stench of bile and rotten berry juice crawls into my nose. I jerk the garbage bag back over the barbwire, flinging bits of flesh into the light of the headlights. As we ride back to the splintering, cold pasture house of my grandfather, I wonder if my father gagged at his first cleaning, and if his father gutted his first, as well.